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Raptor Weekend!

Meet amazing raptors face-to-face at our Southern Maryland Audubon in-person meeting 10:30-noon Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Port Tobacco Recreation Center in Charles County. Raptor expert Mike Callahan will describe the behavior and habits of hawks, eagles and owls native to Southern Maryland. 

Mike will be accompanied by several live raptors from the Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center, providing a closer look at these magnificent and remarkable birds. Open to all ages. Event is free and no RSVP required.

Open to all ages. Port Tobacco Recreation Center, 8190 Port Tobacco Road, Port Tobacco, MD 20677

(Mike Callahan with Barn Owl by Todd Anderson)

But wait, there’s more! Gene Groshon, naturalist with Calvert County Government Department of Parks & Recreation will be sharing Adventures in Raptor Research on Friday, Oct. 6 from 7-9 p.m. at Flag Ponds Nature Park, 1525 Flag Ponds Pkwy, Lusby, MD 20657. Event is free, but please register at:

30-Year-Old Royal Tern Spotted

Ben Springer has reported hundreds of banded terns and gulls to the U.S. Geological Survey.

But, he wasn’t prepared for the notice he received on a Royal Tern he spotted at Point Patience at the Solomon’s Navy Recreation Center this past July.

“I just got a band return for one of the Royal Terns I reported this summer and he’s 30 years old, banded in 1993!” Springer texted me when he received notification from the USGS. “That’s only six months younger than the oldest ever known.”

Springer’s Royal Tern Number 174-29837 169 was banded as a nestling in 1993 before it could even fly, according to the certificate USGS sent Springer. It was banded July 9, 1993, at Rhodes Point in Accomack County, VA. Thats about 34 miles, as the tern flies, from where Springer photographed it this July 12.

The year the Royal Tern hatched Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Beanie Babies first hit the market, gasoline was $1.16 a gallon, Bill Clinton took office as President and Ben Springer had not yet been born.

Springer, who is vice president of Southern Maryland Audubon and is a senior at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, surveys for banded terns as part of an internship he’s had for three years at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

“This one was in a flock with some other terns and gulls,” said Springer. “There was a flock on the point most days and I would go out to get band numbers. Most of the time new birds would be there each day I went out.”

Royal Terns stand out with their brilliant tangerine orange bill and racy black crest against a snowy white head.

Springer tucked his camera under his t-shirt and straddled a paddle board with a kayak paddle to get close enough to the birds to photograph the small silver bands on their legs. His 30-year-old tern was one of 21 Royal Terns he identified that day.

Springer estimated he has reported about 120 banded Royal Terns and 130 Common Terns this year. But, in the bird world, No. 174-29837 169 stands out as true royalty.

Photo by Ben Springer. Story by Molly Moore

Upcoming Events: Bird walks & talks

We have a great line-up of events for all ages! Click here to sign up for any of our free activities:

In-Person Monthly Meeting/Meet Southern Maryland Birds of Prey live and up close. SATURDAY, October 7 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm:

Port Tobacco Recreation Center 8190 Port Tobacco Road, Port Tobacco, MD, United States


September 30 @ 8:00 am – 11:00 am:Birding the Fields and Trails of Sotterley

Historic Sotterley 44300 Sotterley Lane, Hollywood, MD, United States

October 8 @ 8:00 am – 12:00 pm: Bird Walk

Sharp-Tailed Sparrows and Migrants

Cove Point (Private property)

Joy of Nature Journaling

Oct. 22 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am (Please note this new time)

White Plains Regional Park, 1015 St. Charles Parkway, White Plains, MD 20695

Experience nature up-close and learn new nature journaling skills with Kaelyn Stewart. A great way to spend a colorful fall morning learning to look at birds and nature from a different angle. Workshop is free.  Open to all ages 10 and above. Sketchbook and pen will be provided. Meet in the park parking lot, look for us beneath a hand-held Southern Maryland Audubon logo sign. RSVP required to

Camp Report: Puffins & More!

Jan de Regt, winner of our Southern Maryland Audubon Field Ornithology scholarship to the famed Hog Island Audubon Camp, has just returned from her birding adventure with Atlantic Puffins and other species on the island off the Maine coast. Enjoy her account!

Everything I experienced was so remarkable that it’s difficult to choose just a few highlights, but I’d have to say that seeing the Puffins, hearing a Veery, seeing warblers be banded and released and hearing the heartbeat of an American Redstart are all top contenders.

Photographing the Milky Way in the wee hours with my roommate and another camper who joined the fun ranks right up there too.

We cruised to Eastern Egg Rock in the rain to see the Atlantic Puffin colony that had been re-established by Project Puffin beginning in the 1970s. There were Puffins everywhere, along with Black Guillemots, Common Eiders, a Roseate Tern, Common Terns, a lone American Oystercatcher, together with lots of gulls, Common Loons and Double-crested Cormorants.

We continued on to Allen Island where we erected several mist nets, called in some warblers and banded them. That was quite an amazing process to see up close!

Southern Maryland Audubon provided three fully paid scholarships to different programs at the camp this summer. Jan earned the adult birding scholarship. Two other scholarships were awarded to an educator and a high school student.

Jan captured this shot of a beautiful Magnolia being banded.

If you’d like to apply for one of our 2024 scholarships for next summer’s Audubon Hog Island camps, stay tuned to our website

Port Tobacco River Park Bluebird Trail Update

Since the story about the Port Tobacco River Park Bluebird Trail in the June edition of the Osprey, the tallies for the trail continue to grow.

As of 6/25/2023, there have been 28 Bluebirds fledged and another 14 young and 4 eggs still in the boxes. Three boxes are currently on, and one has completed, their second broods. In addition, at least 3 Tree Swallows have fledged this past week. Photo by Rebecca Turner.

As mentioned above, there was unexpected, but welcome, residents on the Bluebird Trail. Tree Swallows built a nest and laid eggs in one of the boxes. The increase in Bluebird trails nationwide has also helped the Tree Swallow population. The males arrive first early in the season to select a nesting site. Pairs are not lifelong partners; they will select different mates each year. Tree Swallows lay 4-7 eggs that are pale pink to white. The Port Tobacco trail box had at least three eggs that could be counted. The nest cup appears to be a loose version of a Bluebird nest cup with a little extra something. After the eggs are laid, the parents place feathers of other birds gently over the eggs. For this reason, we are not exactly sure of the number of eggs laid. Look closely at the picture to see a second Tree Sparrow flying back to the box. Photo by John Posey.

Photo by John Posey

Members of Southern Maryland Audubon Shelly Posey (left) and Rebecca Turner (right) are monitoring the boxes weekly to assess the health of the hatchlings, remedy problems and track the hatchling development for fledge time. Recently, ants were discovered at several boxes but dealt with quickly. Photo by John Posey.

If you would like to become a monitor, please email

Look for final tallies to be published at the end of this season.

Check out our new Logo!

Southern Maryland Audubon has a new look!

Our bold new logo features our region’s iconic Osprey set against a brilliant sun. The updated logo was chosen in a vote of our membership at our 2023 Annual Membership Meeting and Picnic.

Olivia Lunger, 23, an illustrator based in Providence, RI created the new logo. A native of Bethlehem, PA, Olivia specializes in editorial illustration and print design. She is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design.

“I was inspired by the black, white and yellow color scheme matching Maryland’s flag,” Olivia said. “I wanted to use those bold colors to highlight the Osprey’s sharp, dignified silhouette against the sun.” Olivia visited Southern Maryland last summer and had the chance to meet some of our Ospreys up close and personal.

You’ll see our new logo on all our social media platforms, website and other communications.

SMAS logo and photo by Olivia Lunger.

Eagle Cam Family Thriving

pulled from the PT Eagle Cam, this pic pulled from FB and cropped slighly.

Hope and Chandler, the Bald Eagles whose nest is in the eye of our eagle camera at Port Tobacco River Park, have raised three offspring this year—a highly successful brood. In the picture above, the eagle cam captures three young eagles “branching,” or venturing out of their nest onto a nearby branch.

The eagle parents are now teaching their growing eaglets to hunt, fish and support themselves as they venture out. But like the teenagers they are, the three continue to spend time in their massive nest where Hope and Chandler still bring them fish and other fare. They are expected to leave the nest for good by summer’s end.

It will be another four or five years before they become fully mature and sport the snowy white head and tail so distinctive to Bald Eagles.

The Chesapeake Bay area supports one of the most productive eagle populations in the species range. Our rate of three-chick broods is one of the highest in the country. Hope and Chandler are doing their part to keep our statistics high!

All three eggs laid in early February hatched in mid March.

Southern Maryland Audubon thanks Charles County Recreation, Parks & Tourism and Wild Streaming for their support in providing a peek into this Bald Eagle nest. You can watch the eagle family live at the bottom of this home page at

St. Mary’s teacher awarded Southern MD Audubon ‘Conservationist of the Year’

Dorothy Birch with her “Conservationist of the Year 2023 Award” presented by Southern Maryland Audubon Conservation Chair Robert Lukinic (left) and President Molly Moore (right) Credit: John Anderson

Southern Maryland Audubon has named St. Mary’s Public School teacher Dorothy Birch “Conservationist of the Year 2023” for her outstanding work training the future generation of conservationists.

Birch teaches and directs the Natural Resources Management program for high school students at Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center in Leonardtown.

“Dorothy has led this forward-thinking program for the past four years, training and inspiring our future conservationists, biologists, zoologists, landscape designers and others in fields where they will be instrumental in making their communities and the planet better places to thrive,” Robert Lukinic, Southern Maryland Audubon’s conservation chair, said in announcing the award.

Each year for the past two decades, Southern Maryland Audubon has awarded the “Conservationist of the Year” to an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to conservation in Southern Maryland and beyond. It is the highest honor the organization awards.

“We can’t think of any mission more important than training our future generation of conservationists,” said Lukinic. “And no one is doing it better than Dorothy Birch.”

The Natural Resources Management program is a two-year curriculum for St. Mary’s high school students and covers a range of environmental, conservation and sustainability subjects in addition to providing hands-on experience.

Students also participate in community service activities.  This past year students learned to harvest native seeds and grow seedlings. They planted them in the “Front Yard” native plant garden at the St. Mary’s Public Library in Leonardtown.

Birch has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a master’s degree in environmental education. She has observed and taught nature and the environment in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, and Maryland. Birch is also a trained Master Naturalist in both Maryland and Virginia.

2023 Annual Meeting & Picnic

Photo is courtesy of Historic Sotterley.
Historic Sotterley, Photo by permission of Historic Sotterley

Please join us Sunday, June 4, from 1-4 p.m. for Southern Maryland Audubon’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Picnic at gorgeous Historic Sotterley in St. Mary’s County.

We’ll have it all: good food, fun fellowship, a native plant sale, elections, and a bird walk. And you’ll meet our Conservationist of the Year.

The meeting will be at the open-air Riverside Pavilion on a secluded bluff overlooking Sotterley Creek and the Patuxent River. This is one of our loveliest meeting venues and best bird walks with the varied habitat and nature trails this location offers.

Meeting is open to all. Only Southern Maryland Audubon members will be permitted to vote in the elections and choice of a new chapter logo.

Here is the schedule:

  • 1:00-2:15 p.m. Potluck Lunch
  • 2:15-3:00 p.m. Welcome, Award Presentations & Elections
  • 3:00-4:00 p.m. Bird Walk

Directions to Historic Sotterley in St. Mary’s County:

  • 144300 Sotterley Lane, Hollywood, MD 20636
  • From MD Rt. 235 go north onto MD 245, Sotterley Road. Turn right onto Sotterley Lane. Follow signs to the Riverside Pavilion.
  • Parking is available.

2023 Eagle Nest Cam Season Begins!

Tune in for a new season of Bald Eagle chat via YouTube at Do the eagles chat with visitors? Sadly, no, but our experts can answer your questions while you watch real-time nesting action!

The stars, Hope and Chandler, have returned to Port Tobacco River Park each year since this cam went live in 2019. Beginning Tuesday, January 31, join the chat sessions twice weekly, Tuesday mornings (for eagle breakfast, or “breakfish”) from 8:00 to 9:00 and Friday evenings from 4:00 to 5:00 (Eastern Standard Time). Hope has historically laid the first eggs in early February, so we could witness “eggcitement” soon!

The Port Tobacco River Park nest cam depicts wild Bald Eagles. Please know that there are scenarios that some viewers may find difficult to watch. Interactions with other wildlife, sibling rivalry, and weather can impact the eggs and/or eaglets. While we hope for a successful season, remember, anything could happen. Nesting success at this location has varied. In 2019 and 2020, two eaglets fledged, but in 2021 no chicks survived. Last year, one fledged.

This nest cam was installed and is maintained by Wild Streaming, which hosts other nests at For links to more nest cams around the world, see the SMAS Nest Cam page at